Bekins fraudulent claims practices and filing suit

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steveorg
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2004 3:17 pm

Bekins fraudulent claims practices and filing suit

Postby steveorg » Fri Jan 16, 2004 5:38 pm

We had a horrible interstate move through Bekins. Every step was a problem and it finished with a substantial quantity of stolen boxes and damaged furniture. The move occurred in September of 2002 and we’re still involved in the claim process.

The claims process has been fraudulent. For example, they used a valuation that was approximately 60% of the actual valuation and even though we paid for replacement value, they have tried scams such as paying for "visual damage" for items that can’t be repaired. Worst of all, they are stonewalling. They simply have stopped responding. It seems as if they are trying to wait us out hoping that the two year statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit will expire.

At the point that I first got a lawyer involved, they paid about 25% of the claim. We only cashed the check because at the same time they provided a letter acknowledging that this was a partial payment pending full resolution of the dispute. We are now getting ready to file a suit. My lawyer is a cousin who will represent me for free, so I have to do as much of the groundwork and research as possible. I’m hoping to get a few questions answered:

1. Does anyone know how I can obtain the carrier’s tariff? My contract states “For all other particulars regarding loss and damage, see item 19 of carrier’s tariff.”

2. Jurisdiction: The move was from California to New Hampshire, Bekins is located in Illinois, I now live in New Jersey and my lawyer is in New York. Obviously we have to file in Federal court, but can we file where we want? We prefer New York. I cannot find any language in any documents that specifies jurisdiction.

3. What’s better, court or arbitration through the AMSA? I’m leery of industry sponsored arbitration systems. They often are biased and limit your rights, such as the right to discovery, conduct depositions and respond to briefs. Does anyone know if the AMSA system limits any of these rights? Does anyone know of anybody who had a positive experience with the AMSA process when the defendant was a major national mover?

4. Bekins sent an appraiser to evaluate our claim but has refused to provide a copy of the appraiser’s report. Is there a way to force them to share the report before filing suit? If not, is there of any reason why we should not be able to obtain the report as part of discovery?

5. It’s apparent from searching this site and the web that fraudulent claims practices are standard operating procedure for Bekins. Accordingly, we may want to conduct exhaustive discovery about other disputed claims, Bekins’ policies and procedures and how they were developed, and any internal communications related to the claims process in the hopes of discrediting any representation they make about what amount constitutes a fair payment for our claim and perhaps for other purposes. Is anyone aware of any case law regarding discovery in claims like these?

6. Is anyone aware of any boiler plate for a suit like this which can be customized for the details of our suit? If not, I’d like to be pointed to someone who has filed a suit so that we could use their documents for that purpose.

7. According to the Carmack Amendment I can’t collect damages for fraud, distress and negligence or legal costs. However, my Rights and Responsibilities booklet says "If you fail to file a claim within 120 days following delivery and later bring a legal action against the mover to recover the damages, you may not be able to recover your attorney fees even if you win the court action." This implies that attorney fees are recoverable which contradicts Carmack. Under what circumstances can attorney fees or other incidental damages be collected?

I really appreciate any information or direction.

BigLeeCalif
Posts: 4645
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2003 5:59 pm
Location: Escondido, California

Re: Bekins fraudulent claims practices and filing suit

Postby BigLeeCalif » Fri Jan 16, 2004 6:43 pm

Steve, where in California did your move originate?

In answer to your question about Tariff 400N, there is no paper copy of the tariff available to consumers at this point.

You should contact the AMSA Household Goods Carriers Bureau if you have specific questions about the tariff.

You can find many resources on their page.....

www.promover.org/about/hgcbc.htm

Lee


I have several contacts within Bekins in the Bay Area, and might be able to find out more...

Josh
Posts: 903
Joined: Tue May 06, 2003 6:23 pm
Location: USA

Re: Bekins fraudulent claims practices and filing suit

Postby Josh » Fri Jan 16, 2004 6:47 pm

Steve,

I am pretty sure Bekins never swithched over to the new Tariff.

I still have my copy of the 400M tariff if you would like a copy of it.

Just PM me and I will mail you a copy.

That's about all I can do, but I would check your paperwork first to make sure it was the 400M tariff. If by chance it is the 400N tariff, you will have to pay the $75 to get a copy of it which I haven't even done yet.

Josh

Guest

Re: Bekins fraudulent claims practices and filing suit

Postby Guest » Sat Jan 17, 2004 11:13 am

Steve,
You can file a lawsuit in the federal district in which you reside. If you decide to use AMSA's arbitration instead, it may be "cheaper," but you won't be able to get the far-ranging discovery that you will be able to get in a lawsuit. Also, I've heard anecdotal evidence that arbitration is not always the best way to go for consumers because the moving company will make you travel to where they want the arbitration held and that in general the company makes up a lot of the rules regarding the whole process. It's a kangaroo court.

In general, if you win the lawsuit over your lost and damaged goods, some courts may award attorneys fees, some may not.

Good luck.

Tyrone
Posts: 1595
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2003 5:18 pm

Re: Bekins fraudulent claims practices and filing suit

Postby Tyrone » Sat Jan 17, 2004 2:15 pm

My understanding was that attorney's fees are recoverable only for intra-state moves (not interstate moves) and only in certain states. I do need to double check this; that's my homework for the day ;-)

BigLeeCalif
Posts: 4645
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2003 5:59 pm
Location: Escondido, California

Re: Bekins fraudulent claims practices and filing suit

Postby BigLeeCalif » Sat Jan 17, 2004 4:50 pm

Ok guys here is one thing I disagree with the aribitration system on...

Both the Carrier and the customer have to agree in the first place to arbitration, and it has to be submitted by the carrier.

If the claim is for more than $5,000 it has to be presented for the arbitration by the carrier, and not the shipper.

Yet, if the shipper loses, he/she is responsible for the legal costs.

I am of the mindset that though I work for a van line, the arbitration system should be neutral and not administered by the AMSA, or any other mover.
They should be permitted to sit on the board, but the board should comprise consumers AND movers, not be stacked on one side.

I would recommend court if the carrier balks or stalls for time.. Remember that 120 day rule for filing claims that aren't resolved....

Lee

steveorg
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2004 3:17 pm

Re: Bekins fraudulent claims practices and filing suit

Postby steveorg » Sat Jan 17, 2004 7:31 pm

"I am of the mindset that though I work for a van line, the arbitration system should be neutral and not administered by the AMSA, or any other mover.

If I remember correctly, a couple of years ago there was considerable controversy about arbitration. The bottom line is that arbitration tends to heavily favor those who use it frequently because it is inevitable that cozy relationships develop. This situation is even worse for industry specific arbitration systems such as AMSA’s where there tend to be a limited number of recurring defendants. I agree that it shouldn’t be administered by AMSA, but I also doubt that there is any way to develop a fair arbitration system.

Remember that 120 day rule for filing claims that aren't resolved.

120 days from what event? I thought that the 120 day rule was the deadline for filing the initial claim with the carrier form the delivery date and after the claim is filed, you have 2 years to file a lawsuit.

Steve

Chuck
Posts: 41
Joined: Sat Nov 22, 2003 5:01 am

Re: Bekins fraudulent claims practices and filing suit

Postby Chuck » Sat Jan 17, 2004 8:37 pm

Just 2cents from this direction: Bekins isn't on the new tariff -- they have a modified version of the 400M -- I think they call it the 402 or something like that. It allows them to ding you for extra stairs etc at the destination.

Chuck

Diane
Posts: 15824
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2003 12:18 am
Location: Los Angeles

Re: Bekins fraudulent claims practices and filing suit

Postby Diane » Sat Jan 17, 2004 8:51 pm

Yes, Bekins is very cheap about things like that. I think they still charge for long carries also, and they advertise openly on many websites where scammers advertise (so does ABF, but that's another story . . .). I understand that they have a pretty bad reputation among others in the industry. They are also the lowest ranked major van line on epinions.com.

Hi Chuck - welcome back. Glad your move went so well, and please forgive my remark about the brandy and Jose. It was kind of an inside joke about things that were said while you were away from the board.

As you see, the Tales go on . . . Are you going to tattle on Allied for its inflated quote?

Chuck
Posts: 41
Joined: Sat Nov 22, 2003 5:01 am

Re: Bekins fraudulent claims practices and filing suit

Postby Chuck » Sat Jan 17, 2004 9:16 pm

Hi Diane

Can you believe that it was a Bekins agent who told me that Allied is called "I Lied" in the industry, while Bekins is known as "Squeakin Bekins"? LOL. Incidentally, Cor-O-Van is known as "CrapOVan." More "nicknames" will be appreciated from guys in the know (like Josh, BigLee, Michael ...)!

What did I miss?! The reference to Jose and brandy went right past me.

My new university is on the quarter system, and started instruction on Jan 5!!! I just told my students that I just moved with Starving Students and that all my materials are being held hostage in Oregon.

Sorry Steveorg for going off topic.

Chuck

Michael
Posts: 3255
Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2003 7:55 pm
Location: Charlotte, NC

Re: Bekins fraudulent claims practices and filing suit

Postby Michael » Sat Jan 17, 2004 9:41 pm

Chuck,

Here are some,

Not one Lied, they All Lied.

United is so dumb they have to spell their names three times on their trucks (well we got smart and have the single logo now, lol)

And I cant recall bekins and mayflower but it had to do something with the green and cash, lol.
Michael
************************************

Forget yourself for others and the others will never forget

BigLeeCalif
Posts: 4645
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2003 5:59 pm
Location: Escondido, California

Re: Bekins fraudulent claims practices and filing suit

Postby BigLeeCalif » Sat Jan 17, 2004 10:54 pm

Well here's one I suggested guys, and Diane, but the brass wouldn't buy it.

Unigroup (Mayflower and United), especially in my area, alliance so many orders to each other I suggested just calling ourselves Uniflower.


Lee

Guest

Re: Bekins fraudulent claims practices and filing suit

Postby Guest » Wed Jan 21, 2004 1:14 pm

More nicknames: United- Untidy, Atlas- Atlas, my furniture is here
Just some I've heard over the years.

aubie2


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